Professor of Jazz Studies
Director of Jazz Band I
M.M. - University of Massachusetts
Office: 191 Russell Hall
Phone: (319) 273-3077
Chris Merz, Associate Professor of Music, has served as Director of Jazz Studies and Director of the award-winning UNI Jazz Band One at the University of Northern Iowa since 2002. Under his direction, the band has recorded eight CDs featuring many original compositions and arrangements by student and faculty writers.
He has also taught at the University of Wyoming, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Natal in Durban, South Africa. Chris has toured four continents with Dave Brubeck and other members of the Brubeck family and played lead alto saxophone with several East Coast groups, including the Cecil Bridgewater Big Band, the New England Jazz Ensemble, and the Jeff Holmes Big Band. His own projects include Equilateral and the X-tet, a 12-piece big band.
Chris has several compact disc recordings to his credit, including a collaboration with Bob Washut (Gemini), two discs with Equilateral (...And Another Thing and Also Not Pictured...) and one with the X-tet (Mystery is My Story). About that disc, Dave Brubeck wrote, "I am very pleased with this wonderful band. Naturally, I would admire a group like yours that, to me, is a grand extension of what we were doing...when we were the "new thing"." He has received commissions from university and high school jazz ensembles throughout the country and has several compositions and arrangements published by Walrus Music Publishing (Pismo Beach, CA) and the UNC Jazz Press (Greeley,CO). He is a highly sought-after clinician and guest conductor.
Chris currently resides in Cedar Falls with his wife, Jill, and their sons Benjamin and Matthew.